Please explain Alexander Pope's The Rape of the Lock, Canto I, in detail?

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drmonica | (Level 2) Associate Educator

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The Rape of the Lock is based on a true story of a young man who snipped a lock of hair from a young woman he was in love with. This "rape" caused a feud between the two families. Pope wrote this poem to try to create a reconciliation of the families through humor and satire. He patterned the writing style in the poem after other famous poets and wrote the entire poem in heroic couplets (rhymed iambic pentameter). By making a mountain out of such a molehill, and by doing it so stylishly and humorously, Pope penned a masterpiece of satire.

The heroine, Belinda, is in real life Arabella Fermor. Her hair was snipped while she is sleeping. Canto I provides an elaborate description of how beautiful Belinda is while she sleeps, surrounded by angels and fairies. The narrator of the poem is Ariel (Pope). He describes how Belinda awakens, reads love letters (billets-doux), then proceeds to her dressing table. She combs her hair and is horrified to discover that a lock has been cut.

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